University of Edinburgh

Mental Health and Deafness

Presented on 5 June 2008

Promoting emotional well-being in practice

Shanée Buxton

Reducing the stressors

  • Staff training
  • Child welfare and protection procedures
  • Healthy Schools
  • Referrals to other agencies
  • Signing environment: BSL and SSE
  • Pastoral Teachers
  • Strategies Book
  • Pupils' voice: School council, Anti-bullying policy, etc
  • Curriculum: PSHE, Emotions, Citizenship, Deaf Studies, RE etc
  • 1:1 additional support: language, learning, emotional, cognitive, etc
  • Home/school communication
  • Commitment to respecting different cultures and faith: food, festivals, attire, etc
  • Addressing possibility of cognitive delays as a consequence of experiential deficits by organising trips and visitors etc.
  • Boundaries: rules, rewards and consequences

The challenges of developing an Emotions Curriculum for deaf young people

Common deficits in deaf young people

  • Delays or vulnerabilities in understanding other people’s perspective-Theory of Mind
  • Limited emotional understanding and regulation
  • Delays/vulnerability in consequential thinking

Specific difficulties

Many children and adolescents are reluctant to acknowledge and address emotions they believe to be negative.

Learning Difficulties and Developmental Problems

  • Challenging assumptions
  • Behavioural v Cognitive approaches

Emotions Curriculum

The emotions curriculum is comprised of 7 modules that aim to enable young people to:

  • recognise and express emotions
  • develop emotional vocabulary
  • reflect on emotions eg; triggers and consequences
  • develop empathy
  • develop skills to regulate their emotions
  • know when and how to access physical or mental health support

The Lessons

Each module has:

  • lesson plans
  • resources
  • games
  • stories
  • role play
  • problem solving scenarios
  • discussion


  • brain on
  • responsibility
  • working
  • cooperation
  • communication
  • respect


Each module has specific aims which are presented as "I will..." targets, for example:

"I will say what I do when I feel sad."

"I will say or show what other people do when
they feel sad."


At the end of a module the pupils carry out self-assessments, for example:

"I can say or show what I do when I feel sad."

"I need help to say or show what other people do when they feel sad."

Teacher Assessment

The teacher assesses the pupils through real-life observations and during lessons. Each module has level descriptors and each pupil's progress is recorded throughout the year on their own individual progress sheet.


  • Data show that the pupils receiving Emotions lessons are making good progress across the curriculum.
  • Staff who are aware of pupils' individual emotional and learning needs, and who use the strategies recommended in the Strategy Book, are able to ensure that all pupils learn and behave appropriately during lessons.

Pupil's View

I think emotions are good important because help make everyone feel better life. If not what happens? We will feel angry and not happy and can't cope.
MA June 2007